When Alex McMahan was at the helm of Wee Deliver 207, a short-lived cannabis gifting service out of Lewiston, his team of drivers would crisscross the state delivering marijuana, infused gummy bears and turtles, and even high-quality bongs to more than 100 customers a day.

Bret Jackson, owner of the cannabis gifting service Greenlyght, delivers “gifts” to a client in Portland in 2018. The state has since closed the so-called gifting loophole. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“This was a far cry from just a guy with a phone,” McMahan told state lawmakers on Monday. “We delivered to nursing homes, through snowstorms, to people with difficulty leaving the house and a healthy mix of buyers seeking medical relief as well as those seeking recreational enjoyment.”

Wee Deliver shut down in 2018 after the state closed the so-called gifting loophole, but McMahan was back on the scene before the end of the year with MEDCo, a medical cannabis shop on Lisbon Street in Lewiston that offers home deliveries to card-carrying medical marijuana patients.

He and his partners would like to expand into Maine’s coming adult-use marijuana market, expected to go live in March, but don’t know if they can compete with black market rivals unless lawmakers adopt a bill submitted by Senate President Troy Jackson that would allow delivery of recreational marijuana.

“Cannabis delivery has been happening for as long as cannabis and cars have been around,” he said. “Aside from medical, the entirety of the delivery market in Maine lives on the black market … The only way a regulated market can compete with the black market is if it is allowed to compete.”

The bill would allow licensed adult-use retail shops to employ drivers with clean driving and criminal records to deliver marijuana to adults only if the community where the delivery business is located the one being delivered to and the state agreed to it. Drivers would not be allowed to sell to someone who is visibly impaired at the time of purchase.

“I know there are people who sometimes look at this with a different eye, but this is the world we’re in today,” Jackson told lawmakers. “These are legitimate business owners and I think this is a way to crack down a lot on the black market that is happening and shouldn’t be.”

The original bill would have allowed deliveries to towns that have not authorized recreational marijuana sales, much as state law allows for beer and wine deliveries to dry towns, but Jackson cut that from his bill Monday because most Maine communities don’t support marijuana sales in any form.

Currently, only about 30 Maine municipalities have opted to allow some part of the adult-use cannabis market. However, the marijuana-friendly list includes some of Maine’s biggest cities, meaning a majority of Mainers will be just a short car ride away from a retailer once the market goes live.

Existing state law remains silent on medical marijuana deliveries, which, in a state where an activity is allowed unless expressly prohibited, means it is not illegal. Most of Maine’s 2,900 medical marijuana caregivers already make deliveries to dry towns, but they cause so few problems that no one realizes it.

Despite Jackson’s concession, the Office of Marijuana Policy said it could not support Jackson’s bill. The measure was one of five cannabis-related bills discussed at Monday’s four-hour legislative hearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs.

Maine would be willing to consider delivery once the market has matured a little bit, said Gabi Berube Pierce, policy analyst at the Office of Marijuana Policy. The state needs time to get the adult use market up and running before it considers adding another procurement venue, she said.

She told lawmakers that it would be difficult for the state or host municipalities to oversee “a bunch of people driving around with marijuana.” When lawmakers pressed her, noting delivery might be the key to killing the black market, Pierce replied: “Nothing is impossible, but incredibly difficult at this time.”

The state had a similar “wait and see” reaction to the other bills, including one that would allow adult-use shops to sell untested marijuana during a lab shortage, one to allow shops to sell both adult-use and medical marijuana, and another that would eliminate residency requirements for licenses in 2021.

Maine is not going to experience the testing bottleneck that has plagued other adult-use markets, Pierce said. One lab will be ready to go when the market opens later this year, and it has the capacity to run all the state-mandated tests necessary on all first-day samples without long turnarounds, she said.

Small marijuana operators urged lawmakers to keep the law’s existing four-year residency requirement, arguing it protects Mainers from “blood-sucking vampires” that “take the money out of Maine,” while others warned such restrictions are unconstitutional and will deprive Maine entrepreneurs of out-of-state capital.

Both sides of the debate are threatening to sue the state over the issue.

The committee will take up these bills again at a work session that has yet to be scheduled.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.